Last fall Prudential Douglas Elliman turned 100 years old and they asked me to write an article for their Elliman magazine. If you’ve been living in a cave, I’ve been writing their housing market report series since 1994.
What started as a simple project morphed into a fun, albeit gigantic, research project. I learned a lot about the evolution of the Manhattan housing market, largely through the
amazing incredible New York Times archives. This was right about the time of my web site revision and semi-necessary hiatus so I am cleaning out my desk of posts I have been itching to write so please indulge me.
Diane Cardwell of the New York Times in her “The Appraisal” (an incredible column name BTW) penned a great piece: In an Earlier Time of Boom and Bust, Rentals Also Gained Favor that originated from my article and zeroed in on the 1920s and 1930s to draw a comparison to the current market.
I have the feeling my project is going to morph into something bigger – it’s just too interesting (to me). A few things I learned about the Manhattan market over this period:
- Douglas Elliman published the first market study in 1927 [heh, heh] not counting other marketing materials written before WWI)
- Real estate media coverage in the first half of the century was social scene fodder (same as today) but with extensive and excessive personal details presented on tenants, buyers and sellers yet housing prices and rents were rarely presented in public.
- Manhattan made a rapid transition from single family to luxury apartment rentals and eventually co-ops.
- Housing prices and rents by mid century weren’t that much different than the beginning of the century.
- Manhattan’s population peaked at 2.3M around WWI.
- Wall Street in the 1920’s was seen as the driver of the real estate market.
- Federal and state credit fixes in the late 1930’s help bail out the housing market.